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Minneapolis Police Chief Medaria Arradondo. Photo: Jerry Holt/Star Tribune via Getty Images

The Minneapolis Police Department is withdrawing from police union contract negotiations as a first step to reforming the agency, Chief Medaria Arradondo announced Wednesday.

The big picture: Arradondo said the contract needs to be restructured to provide transparency and “flexibility for true reform.” A thorough review will examine protocols for critical incidents, use of force, and disciplining officers.

  • Arradondo said it is "debilitating" when the department has grounds to terminate officers, but a third party works to keep them on the street.
  • He also promised to implement new strategies to identify bad officers.

Why it matters: The news comes as lawmakers are grappling with the politics of police unions as they face pressure to reform the departments they serve. Union resistance has been one of the biggest roadblocks to implementing changes to policing.

  • It also comes days after a veto-proof majority of the Minneapolis City Council pledged to begin the process of dismantling the Minneapolis Police Department as it currently exists — though it's still unclear what will replace it.
  • Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey has said he does not support abolishing MPD, but has advocated for sweeping reforms and has blamed the police union for making it difficult to discipline and terminate officers.

What they're saying: “We will have a police department that our communities view as legitimate, trusting and working with their best interests at heart,” Arradondo said.

  • “This is about examining those significant matters that touch on things such as critical incident protocol, use of force, the significant role that supervisors play in this department, and also the discipline process to include both grievances and arbitration.”

Go deeper: Democrats face the changing politics of police unions

Go deeper

Harris rebukes Barr: "We do have two systems of justice in America"

Sen. Kamala Harris (D-Calif.) pushed back on Attorney General Bill Barr's assertion on CNN that there are not two systems of justice in America, arguing that he and President Trump "are spending full time in a different reality."

Why it matters: The question of whether there is "systemic racism" in policing and criminal justice is a clear, dividing line between Democrats and the Trump administration.

45 million Americans under winter storm watches near New England

Computer model projection showing the winds moving around the powerful East Coast storm on Saturday Jan. 29, 2022. Credit: https://earth.nullschool.net

Nearly 45 million Americans are under winter weather alerts and warnings from North Carolina to northeastern Maine Thursday night, as a major winter storm threatens the region.

Why it matters: It is predicted to be the biggest blizzard since 2018 to strike the Northeast with more than 2 feet of snow possible in parts of eastern Massachusetts, according to the National Weather Service.

2 hours ago - World

Zelensky questions U.S. warnings of "imminent" invasion in Biden call

Biden and Zelensky at the White House last October. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty

President Biden and Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky had a back-and-forth in their call this evening about just how "imminent" the threat of a Russian invasion might be, according to three sources briefed on the call.

Why it matters: Biden has said previously that he believes Russian President Vladimir Putin will probably "move in" to Ukraine, and White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Thursday afternoon that "an invasion could come at any time."